Published: 16:08, 27 April 2022
| Updated: 16:35, 27 April 2022
Plans for a boutique wine hotel at a historic town centre building have been approved by the council.
Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) has given Balfour Winery entrepreneur, Richard Balfour-Lynn the go ahead to create a hotel with restaurants, bars and a wedding venue at the Archbishop's Palace.
The plans were approved at a recent policy and resources committee meeting, which saw the owner of Staplehurst based Balfour Winery given an exclusive six-month contract to develop the plans alongside the local authorities planning team.
Mark Green, Maidstone council's director of finance and business improvement said: “The council is proud to own the palace, a unique building at the heart of an area with great historical significance, including All Saints Church and the Tithe Barn (Carriage Museum).
"We want to bring the area to life and to draw in residents and visitors.”
The Balfour Lynn proposals are to create a luxury boutique hotel based within the grounds of the palace with a restaurant, conference, wedding and training facility within the building itself while remaining open to the public as a historic site.
It will also include a wine and viticultural (the cultivation or culture of grapes) educational centre with the key component being English wine and spirits with the focus on Kent based producers and locally sourced food.
Richard Balfour-Lynn said: “The Archbishop’s Palace will become both the champion and beating heart of Kent wines, spirits and local food produce.
“Part of our plans will be to run tutored wine tastings as well as wine making and viticultural courses from the venue with the palace becoming the centre of the Kent wine tourist sector, attracting visitors from London and further afield. Authenticity will lie at the heart of the offer.
“As one of Kent’s most historic buildings dating back to the 12th century, the Archbishop’s Palace has extensive gardens and outbuildings and the plan will be to create three new buildings for luxury bedrooms in the grounds overlooking the River Medway and the River Len.”
The future of the historic building in the town centre has been unknown for months after it was announced Kent County Council's lease - which started in 2005 - expired in October.
Later this year it will return to the hands of the local authority who initially opened a public consultation for residents' views on what the building should be used for.